Ranking Major Characters [Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire]

Let’s get the Game of Thrones conversation out of the toxic sludge of the last season and onto a healthier bedrock with a simple ranking of the top ten major and minor characters (show and books).

Deciding whether it is a Major or Minor character…

  • If they had more than five chapters in the books written from their perspective, they are major (14 total), if not, they are minor.

Ranked by the following standards…

  • Engagement
  • Coolness
  • Storyline

Major Characters

1. Daenerys Targaryen (I’m not going to include all her titles. Sue me)

It’s popular to hate on Daenerys because of the way her storyline ended in the show and some slow points in the middle of the book, but without Dany, Game of Thrones is just a fantasy epic no one reads. The Mother of Dragons holds the plot down and makes it unique. Dany shows the power of the game of thrones. Its allure, even from across the Narrow Sea, creates and crushes armies and transforms a young, innocent, girl into a deranged dragon-wielding killer (like a dragon egg to a flame). Cersei’s iconic line that you either win or die in the game of thrones may have been wrong. If anything is clear from watching the series finale… nobody wins.

2. Jaime Lannister

Based on the way the internet trends it might be a hot take not having Jaime as number one, but where character arc and coolness reign there is a lack of significance in Jaime’s storyline. It is significant (he is number two), but also his journey is isolated in many ways (he doesn’t ever really play the game of thrones), seeking atonement for what he did to The Mad King as opposed to reaching for higher power. But Jaime is the character that tugs at our heartstrings the most. We hate him and love him in equal degrees and more than we hate or love most other characters.

3. Arya Stark

Arya is badass, the perfect character for the modern viewer. She breaks every mold, goes against stereotypes, adapts and changes to her environment in order to survive, advance, and thrive. Her murder prayer is epic and she becomes (arguably) the deadliest character in GoT. But her culmination was maybe a bit disappointing? All of these assassination skills and she kills Walder Frey (which was cool) and the Night King (which was disappointing because no one wanted her to) so what did it all amount to? If she had gotten Cersei or something her impact on the game would be more significant.

4. Tyrion Lannister

If empathy conquered thrones there would be no game and we would all kneel before the Imp. There aren’t as many ups and downs with Tyrion, he is a self-loathing, abused, under-appreciated genius who against all odds finds ways to win. He is easy to root for, and he had major implications on the game on almost every side which makes him an integral part of the story. I am still hoping he rides a dragon in the books. He deserves it.

5. Eddard Stark

Game of Thrones is known as the show/books that kills main characters because of Ned. Other than that, not a whole lot of main character-killing going on- without bringing them back to life of course (Just look at this main character list. In the show, no other main character was killed before the final season where every story has significant deaths. They are alive in the books as well- except for Jon who is definitely going to be brought back to life). But Ned’s death was so powerful and significant and emotionally charged an entire aura was created around the series and hooked millions of viewers.

6. Cersei Lannister

One of the best villains in television or books- The Mad Queen, with seventy-two internal conflicts that make her compelling and dangerous. Cersei’s clarity is her strength. There is no guessing as to why she does anything, only how she will do it, and she is so ruthless, nothing is off-limits if it will get her what she wants.

7. Jon Snow

I am not sure if everybody loves Jon Snow or nobody does. Maybe the books tainted me, but I found him boring. His storyline was always intriguing, including one of the best in the series about his parentage (which was easy to figure out, but fun to anticipate. I am glad they didn’t try to subvert our expectations with this storyline). But he is so brooding that when I am most inclined to cheer for him, his internal conflict doesn’t increase the moment but sours it. 

8. Sansa Stark

There is nothing harder to read/watch than someone learning the hard way. The disillusionment that descends on Sansa as she meets ‘prince charming,’ becomes royalty, and gets involved in political intrigue is sad, and makes an easy-to-hate selfish girl with her head in the clouds into the girl who wins the game of queens. GRRM is most talented at taking a reader’s opinion on a character from point A to the farthest possible point away from point A. Sansa is a great example of that.

Winner of the Game of Queens

9. Theon Greyjoy

This fucking guy…

10. Davos Seaworth

Davos is a fun story, and the gateway to a large portion of the book. He has a unique take on the world of Westeros as a low-life thief with worldly experience (the only narrator not from a large house). His perspective in the Battle of Blackwater is second only to Tyrion’s, but other than that, he never is the narrator I am excited for when I see his name as the chapter heading.

The Rest…

11. Samwell Tarly

12. Catelyn Stark

13. Bran Stark

14. Brienne of Tarth

Come back on Thursday for the next post as we rank the Top 10 Minor Characters.

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